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Egypt facing hope, challenges
by Kevin Wang, Medill News Service
Washington (UPI) Jun 25, 2012

Mohammed Morsi.

The election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi as Egypt's first democratically elected president will be good for U.S. business interests, top Chamber of Commerce officials said Monday.

Speaking to a group of about 60 business professionals Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the chief executive officer of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, said that the new leadership will deliver mutual benefits to the two countries.

"It will have to be good and both the U.S government and business community understand that well," said chamber CEO Hisham Fahmy in an interview after his speech. "The Muslim Brotherhood leaders are basically capitalists and pro-business. So from that point of view, we have no issues with them."

On Sunday, Morsi, 60, edged Ahmed Shafik, a prime minister under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Morsi became the first Islamist elected as the head of an Arab nation. He is also the first Egyptian president who didn't come from the military. U.S. experts said this leadership model change is revolutionary.

"I think the election result means the return of stability to the economic situation in Egypt." said Lionel Johnson, vice president of Middle East and North America Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We are going to see a willingness among Egyptians and international communities to work with the new government."

Johnson said the United States is at the forefront of shoring up Egypt's financial sector and should use its influence in the global market to help relieve Egypt's debt pressure.

"We should help the new leadership to get loan approval from the International Monetary Fund and help restore its foreign reserve," Johnson said.

Johnson said the U.S. government should also provide assistance through the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, enterprise funds and debt swaps.

Egypt's request for a $3.2 billion International Monetary Fund loan has been put on hold due to doubts about the country's credit rating.

The country's stock market reacted to the election by posting the largest pain since 2008. The Dow Jones news service said, the country's benchmark stock index EGX 30 rose 7.6 percent Monday and closed at 4482.28. The country's largest construction and lending institutions also reported new highs in gains.

"The most important thing for the new government is to demonstrate its ability to create jobs as soon as possible." said Johnson. "There is little time for it to deliver its promises since it decides whether or not confidence will return to the market."

The business leaders said Egyptian leaders also need to prepare for the results of the U.S. presidential election in November.

"They need to get to know the ideologies of U.S. presidential candidates and their stakeholders. They should try to interact with them now," Fahmy said.


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